of Windsor

Dept. of Philosophy

Professor Noonan has his Ph.D. in Philosophy from McMaster University.  Dr. Noonan is Associate Professor of Philosophy and has served as Head of Department since 2004.  He specializes in Social and Political Philosophy, Critical Theory, Democratic Theory, and Contemporary European Philosophy.  His most recent work is focused on the underlying normative structure of environmental, social, political, economic, and cultural life-crises.  He is currently completing a manuscript that diagnoses these problems for a life-grounded materialist perspective.  He aims to develop a materialist ethics which argues that the good for human beings must be understood in the context of our finite, embodied nature, a nature which makes us liable to definite forms of objective harm.  The overriding value of materialist ethics is to understand the social causes of objective harm and to supply normative justification for the sorts of political and social struggles necessary to overcome them.  The human good which opens up once these social harms have been solved is the equal expression and enjoyment of the life-valuable capabilities which define us as self-conscious, active, creative, and caring human beings. 

 In addition to his duties in the Department, Dr. Noonan also serves on the Coordinating Committee for the centre for Social Justice, is co-editor of the journal Studies in Social Justice  (, and managing editor and a major contributor to the Philosophy Theme component of the Encyclopaedia of Life-Support Systems, published electronically by the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, (UNESCO). (    

Recent Publications

  • Critical Humanism and the Politics of Difference, (Montreal: McGill Queen’s University Press). 2003
  • "Death, Life; War, Peace:  The Human basis of Universal Normative Identification," Philosophy Today, Vol. 48, No. 2, Summer 2004, 168-78 
  • "Rights, Needs and the Moral Grounds of Democratic Society," Re-Thinking Marxism, Vol. 16, # 3, July, 2004, 311-29  
  • "Need Satisfaction and Group Conflict:  Beyond a Rights-Based Approach," Social Theory and Practice, Vol. 30, No. 2, April, 2004, 175-92.
  • Jeff Noonan, Democratic Society and Human Needs, (Montreal: McGill Queen's University Press), 2006.
  • Jeff Noonan, "Human Rights and Global Life-Support Systems," in Philosophy and World Problems," Encyclopaedia of Life Support Systems, (Oxford: EOLSS Publishers), 2007 (
  • Jeff Noonan, "Marcuse, Human nature, and the Foundation of Ethical Norms," Philosophy and Social Criticism," 34:3, March, 2008.
  • Jeff Noonan, "Social Conflict and the Life-Ground of Value," Philosophy Today, 51:4, Winter, 2007.
  • Alison Assiter and Jeff Noonan, Needs: A Realist Perspective, Journal of Critical Realism, 6(2), September, 2007.
  • See the PDF file below for Dr. Noonan's complete CV.

Dr. Noonan's CV

Contact Information


Office: Chrysler Hall North 2187

Office hours: Mon. 1-3pm and Tue. 11:30-1pm

Telephone: 253 3000 x2396

University of Windsor

401 Sunset

Windsor, Ontario, Canada

N9B 3P4

Fall Courses

  • Labour and Social Justice

Winter Courses

  • Recent French Philosophy: Alain Badiou



Philosophical Biography

The first philosophical book that I read was Albert Camus’ The Rebel, when I was sixteen, riding the bus from Sudbury to visit my uncle in Toronto. At the time I had not thought about studying philosophy. All that I knew for certain was that I wanted to go to university and that the university had to be in Toronto. I am sure that I misunderstood most of what Camus was arguing, but his idea of revolt, of the refusal to leave things and oneself as they were, has influenced my thinking ever since. Maybe it was at that point, smoking cigarettes on a Greyhound that the idea of studying philosophy first grabbed me.

When I arrived at York two years later I enrolled in all sorts of different courses but the two that would set me on the path that I am still on were introductory courses in philosophy and political theory. I was much more interested in the content of the political science course. I have never been intellectually more moved than when we read Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts. All the propaganda that I had been fed for 18 years melted away. Here was the most powerful invocation of the ideal of human freedom I had ever encountered. My philosophical commitment to exploring and advancing that ideal was set. But my curiosity knew no bounds. I did not want to confine myself to just one domain of study. That is why the course in philosophy was important. Here was a discipline that allowed you to explore any and every dimension of human experience. I ended up majoring in Philosophy and Social and Political Thought, trying as best I could to discipline my thoughts and yet keep them open to a range of different approaches.

As I advanced towards my final year of study my professors encouraged me to consider graduate school. I was accepted at McMaster and started my MA in 1993. I dragged the MA out for two years and then moved on to the Ph.D program. A couple of months before I defended my thesis I was having a beer, complaining that I had wasted three years. I was nearly finished my doctorate and had no job lined up. When I returned home there was a message waiting for me. I had applied for a contract position at the University Of Alberta and the chair was offering me the job. In August I defended my dissertation and was off to Alberta for the next two years. I came to Windsor in 1998, and was hired on a tenure track position in 2001. In one way or another I have been in school for more than 30 years. If I had to choose my soul again, as Plato says we all must in Book Ten of The Republic, I could not but take the same path.

For the last ten years I have been working at Windsor, delighting in the vital intellectual life of our department and trying to stay engaged as a philosopher in the wider life of my adopted home city.  For me philosophy is what happens inside, rather than outside, Plato’s cave.  In the midst of severe life-crises on all planes of being alive, it is clear that neither politics as it is ordinarily practiced nor science and technology alone can provide comprehensive solutions.  Our world needs more than ever the systematic criticism and comprehensive normative vision that only philosophy can provide. This general commitment I share with all my colleagues at Windsor, and I invite any prospective students who are interested in pursuing a life of philosophical engagement to contact the department for further information.





Best experienced with